Five out of six councillors resign from Harborough parish citing harassment and planning concerns

The majority of members of a parish council have quit, saying they have been subject to harassment, abuse and threats from a 'small number' of residents.

Wednesday, 27th March 2019, 7:08 am
Updated Wednesday, 27th March 2019, 7:21 am

Hallaton Parish Council saw five of its six members resign on Monday night.

Chairman of the council Peter Crewe, David James, Stewart Richards, Jayne Howard and Kerry Flavell, all gave speeches and resigned.

Each speech mentioned harassment of councillors by a small number of people, with some saying they have received malicious emails, threats, and abuse - and one saying the clerk had received a threatening phone call.

Each of the councillors also raised the issue of the village's Neighbourhood Plan (NP) - a document intended to mould development and growth in the area, in line with evidence and villagers' wishes. Hallaton is expected to require 30 new homes during the lifetime of the plan, so it is required to identify where these can be placed. 'Windfall' housing can also be taken into account - extra homes built in the village on other sites, such as in gardens or other land.

A planning application for 23 homes already exists for one site in the village - known as the Grace Homes development. The Neighbourhood Plan as it currently stands identifies a different site, known as Cow Close, which could take 33 homes as its preferred site for homes.

Several of the councillors voiced the opinion that the Grace Homes site is likely to be given planning permission by the district council, and that the plan if passed as it currently stands, would give the green light to a further 33 homes on the Cow Close site. That would mean the village would get 56 new homes.

In his resignation lette,r Peter Crewe said the parish council had evidence "which clearly shows that the plan has been made to fit and enable 'Cow Close' to become the preferred site"

Jayne Howard said: "The [Neighbourhood Plan's] advisory committee refuse to alter the NP, they either refuse to understand what they are doing or they would welcome the 60 to 70 homes, I just don't know."

She concluded her resignation saying: "If there is no parish council and therefore no qualifying body, then there is no longer an advisory committee, they are now defunct and unable to act."

David James said: "To me, the worst thing we ever agreed to was doing a Neighbourhood Plan."